DoD News Briefing - Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon ASD PA
Thursday, March 23, 2000 - 2:00 p.m.
Also Participating: Lt. Gen. Paul Kern, Military Deputy for the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Logistics, Logistics and Technology
MR. BACON: Good afternoon. Because there have been a lot of questions from you on the Patriot missile situation, I've asked Lieutenant General Paul Kern to come down and explain the situation and answer some questions for a couple minutes, and then I'll come and do the rest of the briefing.
So, Lieutenant General Kern.
GEN. KERN: It's always fun that Ken always invites me here when we have good news. I asked the Navy if I could borrow their color guard to start out this new -- (laughter). They didn't say they were really anxious to do that.
I wanted to explain to you the situation that was reported yesterday (sic) [today] in the Wall Street Journal article about Patriot missiles and try to answer some questions that you might have.
The Patriot, as you may remember, was the missile which was -- first came to public attention during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, when we deployed them to Southwest Asia. And that's important because the Patriot missile before that was developed as a missile to counter air-breathing threats -- bombers, jets -- that we would expect to see in the European theater under the Cold War conditions. We quickly, though, developed and realized that a threat was developing for theater missile defense -- TMDs -- and that we needed a capability to knock them down as well as aircraft. And so, during the late '80s that development took place. And the result of that was the Patriot Configuration 2, or PAC 2, missile. And that's what was deployed from development very rapidly over to Southwest Asia in 1990.
That missile, as you may know, did what it was designed to do in terms of knocking down most of the SCUD missiles which were fired at it, but there were some technical parts that didn't work as well as we thought they might. And so we upgraded that to another configuration called GEM -- G-E-M -- which was a guidance enhancement. And that gave us a better capability. And in both of those cases, that missile was designed originally, though, as going after air-breathing targets and it was designed with a blast fragmentation warhead that would get up in the vicinity of an incoming missile and then the fragments are what took out the missile that was coming in. It never was designed to be a head-on-head.
We also realized that that design had limitations with respect to the chemical threat which we saw developing, because they would normally be in canisters which would be in different pieces inside that warhead and so if you hit it with a blast-frag type warhead, it would just scatter those and it would still follow the trajectory down and land generally in the vicinity we expected. So we started the next development effort, and that was the ERINT [extended range intercept] technology, which is now today PAC-3. PAC-3 is now about in the same place that PAC-2 was in 1990 in terms of finishing its engineering manufacturing development and going into low-rate production.
So there was a generation of Patriot missiles that have been fielded since the 1980s and that we are getting ready to replace again. The other components of that system is the radar and the control stations and the power sections on the ground. And so there are many parts of a Patriot system that are comprised today which sometimes just goes under the label of Patriot, so I think it's important that you kind of put that all in context of what the problems are.
The specific issue that we have today is with the Patriot PAC-2 configuration. And that missile, like all of our complex missile designs, has a shelf life and it has an expected usage characteristic. Those missiles, the Patriot PAC-2 was fielded from about 1990 to '95, and then the GEM upgrade from '95 to '97. So the newest missile is, at best, three years old and some of them are 10 years old. So we have very different configurations and different-age missiles out there.
You also find the missiles in different status from the way they are used; and that is, some are kept in storage as war reserve, and some of them are kept on the launchers. In the particular theaters where we have concerns, Southwest Asia, Northeast Asia, Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, we keep our missiles in a more ready status. So there are missiles in the launchers, and they are up and ready. And those are in a condition in which electrical current is applied to them. They are then brought up to an operating temperature for different components within that missile, and so they are heated.
And that is cycled based on the status of that battery as it goes through its daily operations. And clearly, as the world situation changes, we have them in different conditions of readiness in their preparedness to launch.
Now, when you add that all up, you see that there is an aging of these missiles that's out there. So we do a sampling of those missiles throughout their lifetime. And we bring back, on average, 50 to 70 missiles a year to Red River Army Depot. And that is where we have the test facilities, which then takes the forebody, the end of the missile, off, and the electronic components are tested. And so we have done that sampling over the years since we deployed the missile. And that gives us some comfort that the missiles that we have are kept in a good configuration and being ready to use.
During those evaluations, we have noted, over the past year or so, that the missiles which are in that hot status, were testing out a little bit differently than the missiles which were kept in storage. And so we began to have suspicions that we had a different set of aging problems that was occurring. And we then, this past fall, brought them back and did some more testing on those missiles that have been in a hot status, or deployed, and we confirmed that the concerns that we had were peculiar to that sample of missiles. That alerted us to bring back some more. So we got a sample size that we could make some statistically sound decisions from, about what to do.
I think you can understand that at this point, we had some operational security concerns that were materializing. And so we notified our leadership here in the Pentagon, but most importantly we notified the CINCs, who were in the deployed theaters, who had missiles in the hot deployed ready status.
And so our first concern then was to be able to take those missiles and replace them with the good missiles that we had, those which were kept in the storage status rather than brought back to the hot status. And so while we were doing this evaluation, we quietly swapped out those missiles, and that was completed the day before yesterday.
So from an operational standpoint, our concerns were taken care of, that we had made that swap-out of missiles. And we are now in the process of defining specifically what must be done to bring all of them back up to a new readiness level, to the original readiness level.
We are doing that in conjunction with Raytheon, who produced the missiles. They've been working seven days a week for us. And I will just tell you that they are behaving and responding the same as they did during Desert Storm, in time of emergency, of putting a full court press on solving this problem for the Defense Department. So we are working those pieces right now.
The one component that we know we have a problem with, which was reported, was the radio frequency downlink, an RFDL. That's a black box which sends signals back and forth to the ground station and to the missile. We can replace those, but we are checking first, because what we really want to do, from an engineering standpoint, is to find the root cause, what is making that black box deteriorate.
So that's a summary of it. We found it through our testing. We've taken care of the operational readiness issues by replacing them. This particular problem applies to the PAC-2 configuration of the missile. And I do have some diagrams, if you are interested at all in any questions about those different configurations.
Q: How many missiles were replaced? What was the cost? And were these mostly in the Gulf or in Korea or --
GEN. KERN: The missiles which we replaced were all deployed missiles. So they were in both the Gulf and in Korea. And I'm not going to give you the exact number which we replaced. It was in the hundreds, as a general number.
I cannot tell you what the cost of that's going to be till we find the root cause of the problem.
Q: Do you have any idea how long this will take to come the -- you know, find out what the problem is?
GEN. KERN: I wish I could give you a good answer to that. I just got off the phone with Raytheon engineering staff, who are working that very hard. I talked with our program manager, who was here yesterday, on their analysis of it. We think we have a pretty good handle on the components that are failing, but we have not confirmed the cause of that yet because there's a number of different paths that have to be followed. So we're going to continue to pursue that.
Q: When did you make this decision to replace the deployed missiles? And what was the failure rate in these tests that convinced you you had to replace them?
GEN. KERN: We made the decision a little over 10 days ago to actually replace the missiles. I'm not going to give you the precise failure rate for security reasons. And if I did, it would probably be inaccurate anyway because it depends upon the sample that you're looking at as to how you would interpret that.
Q: General, in your description of what happened, you used the term "emergency." Was this a situation where if they had been needed to be used that you're fairly sure they would not have operated properly?
GEN. KERN: No. The missiles checked out on a connectivity test that would say that they were operational. It's not till you take them apart and get into the black boxes that we found components which, in a technical term, were out of spec, so they don't fit in the range that you would like them to, which we believe would leave -- it's a very conservative approach to doing it. We are in the process of running that to ground right now and actually taking that and testing it through live-fire testing.
At the same time, I would add that we do live fire of these missiles periodically, as well, every year, and we just completed one this year which was a success. And these are missiles that are pulled out. So we have a pretty good confidence level that the missiles are going to work. But our concerns were for these deployed missiles that were in the hot status, that it was not worth the risk to leave them, that we would replace them.
Q: Even though you do think they would have worked?
GEN. KERN: I cannot confirm to you that they would or would not today, but our suspicions were that we had a problem, so we wanted to replace them.
Q: Are you going to replace the PAC-2s with the Arrow, with the PAC-3?
GEN. KERN: No, sir.
GEN. KERN: I'd love to do that. The PAC-3 is a hit-to-kill missile, as opposed to the blast/frag warhead, it is 1990s technology versus 1980s technology, and it would be a new missile for which we could eliminate most of these problems. However, it is just entering into low-rate production right now, so I don't have those ready.
Q: So it's not ready yet?
GEN. KERN: It's not; no, it's not.
Q: Did you --
GEN. KERN: Yeah?
Q: -- so did you have to go outside the theater to swap out? Were there enough in storage? And could you also tick off the different components that are having a problem? You said the RF downlink, but -- and what -- (inaudible) -- else?
GEN. KERN: There are a couple of other components, and I am not going to go through the list of components, that we are suspicious. Because they are suspicions right now, I couldn't even verify to you that we do have problems with all of them. I am not exactly going to describe to you how we replace the missiles, either. But we did it quickly, and it was very effective.
Q: So you won't say whether or not you have to take them from other theaters?
GEN. KERN: No, I will not.
Q: Is there a prescribed time for which these missiles are supposed to be on alert? In other words, did somebody think beforehand that, if you leave these things with power to them indefinitely, you may have a problem?
GEN. KERN: There is a trade-off that's made in a risk analysis, if you will, of keeping a missile in a hot status, ready to launch, versus the degradation of that missile because you are keeping it in hot launch status.
And our theater commanders make those decisions; we provide them the technical data. I will tell you that the missiles have far exceeded any of their expected hot period, by orders of magnitude. And so our confidence is fairly high that that was not a bad trade to make. We of course are going to relook that very carefully now that we have better information.
Q: So in other words, you did have -- the manufacturer had told you that you could keep these things in a hot status for --
GEN. KERN: Six months.
Q: -- six months.
GEN. KERN: And we have far exceeded that.
Q: By how much? I mean, how long --
GEN. KERN: There is not a precise answer to that because it varies theater by theater.
Q: Some of these in fact have been in this hot status for years, haven't they?
GEN. KERN: Could be.
Now, as you know, we change Patriot batteries depending upon worldwide conditions. We have deployed more batteries, particularly to Southwest Asia. We deployed batteries again to Northeast Asia; and depending upon the world-situation changes whether -- the number and the exact readiness conditions of each of them. So each one is almost a different label on it.
Q: So why, if you have a missile that the manufacturer tells you should be on hot alert for six months, do you allow CINCs to keep them on alert for, as you said --
GEN. KERN: Let me be a little bit more specific in that. It's not that they said they were allowed to be; they were warranted to be for that period of time. And that's why we do all these sample data collections to both verify and recertify the missiles. So it's not -- when you build it, it's a best-engineering estimate for which everybody works within.
Q: So why not --
GEN. KERN: We've verified that we didn't have that problem until recently.
Q: Why not rotate them?
GEN. KERN: Because then you put all your missiles in the same status.
It's a judgment of risk. And you weigh many different factors, and they're based on the conditions in the theater that you're in. And as those conditions change over time and the technical risk that you weigh that against is the life of the missile.
Q: How much are these missiles, and who's going to absorb the cost, eventually, of fixing this?
GEN. KERN: Right now our focus is not on cost. The focus has been on fixing the missiles. And so I don't have an estimate yet of exactly how much it's going to cost. I can tell you that the components that we think are bad are probably in the order of $80,000-$100,000 per missile. But that then has to be factored into labor, what we find, whether we should redesign them versus just replace them. There's a whole series of factors that'll have to be considered.
Q: Just -- $80,000-$100,000 for a missile?
GEN. KERN: Components per missile.
Q: Components. That means the whole missile, or just pieces?
GEN. KERN: No, those are just pieces.
Q: So, for every missile you estimate it would cost eighty to a hundred --
GEN. KERN: I mean, that's a -- I would not like you to leap to any conclusions that that's the cost of fixing them.
Q: Well, what is that the cost of?
GEN. KERN: That's the cost of the parts that we know right now.
GEN. KERN: Right.
Q: But if the company guarantees these components for a certain amount of time, then -- and you had them on alert for that amount of time, they wouldn't be responsible, then, for the -- fixing these components, if that's --
GEN. KERN: I don't want to get into a legal discussion of liabilities up here, but -- (laughs).
Q: But if it's not a design flaw, then the company wouldn't --
GEN. KERN: If it's not a design flaw. That's correct.
Q: General Kern, Taiwan has --
GEN. KERN: I'll come back.
Q: Taiwan has PAC 2s, and I assume that they have to be on some kind of alert. Have you spread the message to other countries --
GEN. KERN: We have notified everybody that owns a Patriot missile.
Q: Do they have similar problems?
GEN. KERN: I don't know yet.
GEN. KERN: (Inaudible due to cross talk) -- in the back.
Q: Yeah. Let me follow up on that. In terms of the allies, when did you notify them, and have -- if you don't know yet if they have any problems, has the U.S. not replaced any of the allies' missiles, then? Should we assume that?
GEN. KERN: We have notified them recently. And we have not -- we are waiting for their decisions as to what they would like to do.
These are in all different conditions. Some of them were bought directly under commercial sale, some of them were bought directly under foreign military sales. And so there's no single answer for any one country.
Q: Have they generally been in hot status?
GEN. KERN: I don't think that's a fair characterization of them. I think you could -- the majority of them have not been.
Q: Do you -- could I just clarify -- so you notified them within, presumably, this last 10-day period, not when you originally discovered there was a problem?
GEN. KERN: That's correct. We didn't know enough to tell them up until very, very recently.
Q: There was no danger to the crews firing these missiles?
GEN. KERN: No, sir.
Q: But can we just pursue it one step further? Apparently, you did not notify them 10 days ago when the decision was made to replace. You ended up notifying them only after you had pretty much replaced the ones that you were going to replace, is that correct? Like two days ago, you notified them?
GEN. KERN: That's about right. I don't really want to be more precise in how we go about doing that business.
Q: Do you have missiles to -- do you have enough left to replace any allied missiles, should they request replacement?
GEN. KERN: I guess the simple answer is, without getting into a lot of classified numbers on them, we have adequate stores to make us feel confident that what we have are good missiles out there, enough to handle any threat that we see.
Q: But, with all due respect, the question is, can you offer -- can the United States offer the allies replacement Patriot missiles today?
GEN. KERN: They're not in production any more, so what we're doing right now are upgrades of old missiles. So the answer is simply if everybody shipped all their missiles back and said, "Replace them," no.
Q: Well, excuse me, but do you have missiles -- so you do not have enough missiles now left in inventory to replace allied missiles?
GEN. KERN: We don't stock missiles on a shelf the way we do parts. These are expensive items, number one, and so the way they are purchased and the number that you keep in reserve versus the number that you keep deployed is always a balance of resources versus availability. So we just don't have -- you know, I don't have thousands and thousands of these missiles sitting on stocks ready to go replace them.
Q: So you -- just to make sure I absolutely understand, you had enough in inventory to replace U.S. Army stocks, but that pretty much is it at the moment?
GEN. KERN: Yeah, but every country has -- you know, everybody does their own security arrangements, and I'm not going to try to get into explain to you how each country does that business. That's clearly not my line of business. But they don't take all their missiles and put them all out in a deployed status, either. So they're all very similar conditions as to what we are. Everybody has to balance their risk of how many you buy, how many you keep in storage and how many you put out for either training or for operational readiness.
Q: How much time do you save keeping a missile in hot status? In other words, how long does it take to bring a missile up to hot status? Is it five minutes, is it five hours?
GEN. KERN: It depends upon ambient conditions, so in Korea in the middle of the winter is very different than Kuwait in the middle of the summer. A short time is two to three minutes, and the long time is probably 10 minutes.
Q: That's with them on the launcher already?
GEN. KERN: Correct.
Q: Are you considering a six-month rotation?
GEN. KERN: Of missiles? No, sir.
Q: Despite the manufacturer's guidelines that they shouldn't remain hot for more than six months?
GEN. KERN: No, it wasn't a guideline, so let me restate that, okay? It's a warranty. They warranty the missiles in a hot condition for six months.
Q: Well, did they ever say that after that six-month period there is a possibility of degradation?
GEN. KERN: That's why we do the sampling of these missiles on a continuous basis, and we bring 50 to 70 back every year and we check them out to find out whether there is degradation or not or whether we still have a good missile. And that's true of almost all of that type of a weapon that we have. And that sampling told us, for many years, that we were okay. But recently we have discovered that there was a trend for those deployed which gave us the reasons to go ahead and swap them out.
Q: So then these live-fire tests that were successful included missiles that had been on the rack hot?
GEN. KERN: The majority of them -- we don't pull stuff back from theaters to test. We are doing that. We so some. We do some.
Q: Oh. Well, so then these live-fire tests were conducted, then, with missiles that were in storage and not hot?
GEN. KERN: For the most case, that's correct. For the live-fire testing, which is different than the sample data collection. Two different sets of tests we run.
Q: Right, I understand. But then the live-fire testing, if you weren't testing the hot missiles, then you really don't know if they would in fact work if they had to be used?
GEN. KERN: I mean, the answer is, until you shoot one, yes, you don't know. But all the indications we have right now is that the hot checkout that they did in theater worked. And so the process that we're using right now, we'll find out whether or not that was true.
Q: Let me go back to this decision about when you told the allies. You knew 10 days ago, you knew enough to take the fairly extraordinary step of replacing all your alert Patriots in Korea and Southwest Asia. That certainly seems like enough information to -- if it's enough information to take action on, it seems like it should be enough information just to advise the allies that they may have a similar problem. Isn't the real reason here for the difference between 10 days ago and two days ago is that you were trying to keep this secret and very close hold while you had this problem?
GEN. KERN: Well, clearly the first priority we have is always the operational security of our forces, so we're not going to go out and --
Q: So is that the reason you didn't tell the allies?
GEN. KERN: No. We made an assessment of the risks all around. You know
Q: If the risks were great enough to justify --
GEN. KERN: I can't be very specific. I mean, I'm trying to answer your question without getting into the areas of operational matters.
QThe allies don't keep their missiles as hot as we do, or as many as hot.
GEN. KERN: Each ally runs their national security the way they choose to, just as we, the United States do it. So you can't draw any single conclusion about allies. We did what we thought was a very fair assessment of keeping the security of our forces and our allies in check, and we think we did it the right way.
Q: Why --
Q: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. There was a follow-up on --
MR. BACON: General Kern has to leave, so I'm going to limit it to the hands that are up, which -- just a minute. And there are three hands up. (Laughter.) Chris -- (inaudible) -- go to Bill, and then we've got to end it.
Q: General, it's now been about 10 years since the Gulf War. We know the Patriot wasn't designed originally to hit ballistic missiles, and independent analysis said that it didn't do very well in the Gulf War at all. Can you give us any sense that the missile that's out there now, the PAC-2, which is a blast fragmentation warhead, if there had been -- if there was chemical ballistic missiles, which, fortunately, there weren't during the Gulf War, would it be effective against that? And can you give us any sort of metrics on the improvement that the PAC-2 is over the original Patriot, and the PAC-3 is over the PAC-2?
GEN. KERN: The simple answer is, no, I'm not prepared to go into all of that information. But I would start by saying I don't accept the premise of all the analysis that was done on the performance of the Patriots, as well. We do know, as you stated, that we could make improvements, and we've done that over the years, and so we do know that performance is getting better and better. But it is also the reason that we went into the development of the Patriot PAC-3 configuration, which is a hit-to-kill and very effective against all of those types of threats. And so that is the reason that, you know, if you ask me why we went to that, that is the solution to it.
Q: Let me follow up, if I may. And that is, with a blast fragmentation warhead of the kind that you have fielded now, and chemical weapons, is that effective at all?
GEN. KERN: Yes.
GEN. KERN: Because it knocks it down out of the air.
Q: And lets it spread all over the place, right?
GEN. KERN: There's a whole series of operational issues that you get into on how you work your missile defenses, which both has -- I'm not going to get into it, but it has a great deal to do with not just how the missile performs but how you behave.
Q: When will you start to field PAC-3?
GEN. KERN: Pardon?
Q: When will you field PAC-3?
GEN. KERN: '01, next year.
Q: Which allies have owned these, or how many of them are angry about this situation?
GEN. KERN: I don't think any of them are angry about the situation. They're concerned, probably, the same as we are, that we find solutions to the problem.
Q: Which allies, sir?
GEN. KERN: There are seven countries which own them.
Q: Can you name them?
GEN. KERN: I can try. To start, Israel, Japan, Germany --
GEN. KERN: -- Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Yeah -- (inaudible) [Taiwan].
Q: General, could I ask one thing to clear up? That all of the missiles in which you found problems have been on hot status for at least six months. This is not just an assumption, because most of them were -- all of the problems you found, the missiles had been on hot status for six months.
GEN. KERN: The problems that concerned us were from missiles that were on hot status for six months.
Q: So, General, why --
Q: (Off mike) --
Q: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q: Go ahead, Charlie. Go ahead. Follow up.
Q: Okay. Why are the PAC-2s -- why do they have to be on hot alert? Is it a missile threat that they're countering? Is it an aircraft threat that they're countering? Is it --
GEN. KERN: Missile threat.
Q: Huh? A missile --
GEN. KERN: It's a missile threat response time.
Q: Missile threat response time. You have to be on hot alert, ready to go, ready to push that button, right?
GEN. KERN: It will vary time to time on long you think you've got.
GEN. KERN: Part of why you bring it up on a hot status, too, is just for training. I mean, you go through a checkout to make sure you've got it, and then you bring it back down. How long you keep it there is dependent upon what the conditions are.
Q: Thank you.
MR. BACON: Thank you very much.
Q: Thank you very much, sir.
(The general departs.)
MR. BACON: Okay. I only have one announcement, and that concerns Deputy Secretary John Hamre. Next Monday, the 27th, he will speak, deliver the keynote address at the fourth annual Sam Nunn Bank of America Policy Forum in Athens, Georgia. And that event is open to the public and the press, should anybody want to cover it.
With that, I'll take your questions. Pam?
Q: There was a report out of the Italian press yesterday that was then translated into Albanian and then translated into English, that Italy was sending an additional 600 troops, but they sent into Mitrovica. Can you explain that?
MR. BACON: Italy is sending a battalion -- I believe the San Marco Battalion. And I believe it -- I don't know that it's going to Mitrovica, but I understand they are sending additional troops.
Q: Mr. Bacon, did your forces start the Dynamic Response 2000 military exercise in Kosovo?
MR. BACON: Yes. I believe they are in the process of moving today from Camp Able Sentry in FYROM into Kosovo.
Q: And thence?
MR. BACON: Pardon?
Q: And thence?
MR. BACON: Well, then they'll do their exercise in Kosovo and come back.
MR. BACON: Yes?
Q: Has there yet been a request for U.S. troops, additional U.S. troops, in Kosovo?
MR. BACON: Not that I'm aware of, no.
Q: Well, I mean, you would be aware of it.
MR. BACON: I would. I'm not aware that there has been a request.
MR. BACON: Yes?
Q: Tomorrow is the anniversary of the NATO campaign against Serbia and Montenegro. General Wesley Clark and Lord George Robertson are warning these days that Mr. Milosevic may start a new military action, this time against a pro-Western republic in what remains of Yugoslavia and Montenegro. Is the U.S. concerned as Lord Robertson and General Clark are about obviously what's brewing in Montenegro?
MR. BACON: Well, we're obviously watching the situation very closely. Mr. Milosevic has so far lost for his country Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Kosovo. It seems unlikely to me that he'll want to take the risk of another conflagration in his area, but we are watching what's happening and obviously, we would be concerned about any military action. We -- that's all I can say. It would be an issue of grave concern.
Q: Sorry. The International Crisis Group is recommending to NATO allies that they make a commitment to meet any attempt to use force to install a pro- --(inaudible word) -- government in Montenegro with a forceful military response. And the North Atlantic Council should formally task the NATO military command to plan such a response and there should be a movement of forces in the region appropriate to demonstrate seriousness of purpose. How would you evaluate this recommendation, and what is the likelihood of such steps being taken?
MR. BACON: Well, I'm not going to talk about contingencies or hypotheticals. I think our position on Montenegro is very clear, and I've just stated it, and I'm not going to talk about future military actions.
Q: Are KFOR peacekeepers on any higher alert tomorrow, given the anniversary of the --
MR. BACON: Yeah, this is at the commander's call, and I anticipate that some forces will be on higher alert, yes.
Q: Different topic. Do you know if, in Secretary Cohen's discussions with the Italian defense minister whether the issue of the U.S. citizens who were charged with environmental violations at Aviano and Sigonella last year, whether that issue has come up?
MR. BACON: I was not in the meeting and I -- I'll find out, but I don't know the answer to that question.
Q: A missile defense question. A group of primarily Republican members of Congress and former officials have come out and urged Republican candidate Bush to basically walk away from the ABM treaty and deploy a missile defense which includes Naval assets as soon as possible, and just basically -- don't try to conform a national missile defense to the ABM treaty; just walk away from it. What does the administration policy on that?
MR. BACON: We are developing a national missile defense system right now that is a land-based system. We are in the process of discussions with the Russians over necessary amendments to the ABM treaty, and later this year the president will consider a number of issues in deciding what to do next with national missile defense. But obviously he'll have to look at the threat, he'll have to look at the pace of development on our side, where we stand, he'll have to look at the cost and he'll have to look at the arms control implications.
Q: Can you spell out briefly, that is, if when he was making the decision the three parameters -- the feasibility, the cost and the threat, which everyone pretty much agrees is upon us or soon upon us -- if those were all clear-cut decisions and the arms control ramifications were the only rub, what would this administration's policy be?
MR. BACON: The president has yet to make a decision, and I can't forecast what his decision will be.
I think that it's not a static situation; in any one of these four issues, it's not a static situation. And we are in the process of discussions with the Russians. So the arms-control component of the formula clearly is not static right now.
And I would say that we're continuing to work on the program, technologically. As you know, there will be another test in June. So the developmental part of the program is not static either.
We are continuing to work on reducing the threat, by winning agreements from countries, such as North Korea, on their missile programs. We have not succeeded beyond winning an agreement that they won't test their Taepo Dong II missile. But to the extent that we had more success in counterproliferation measures, that would have an impact on the decision.
So there are a number of factors to be considered. I don't think any of the factors is static right now. The president will have to evaluate the very best information at his disposal, at the appropriate time, and then make a decision. And it's too early to forecast right now, how he'll evaluate the factors.
Q: Ken, what, if anything, can you tell us about the arrest of a man in the Pentagon parking lot last night? Apparently, he was armed and dangerous. Do you know anything about this?
MR. BACON: Well, that's an assumption that he was dangerous. All I can tell you is what I know.
At about 9:00 last night, a man driving a car ran a stop sign and was apprehended -- pulled over by the Defense Protective Service. When the officer went up to the car, he saw a handgun lying on the seat. He also saw in the car a rifle, which I believe was a .22-caliber rifle.
Because the man was driving a car with out-of-state license plates, the case was turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And it remains under investigation by the FBI. The man was apprehended. He spent the evening in custody, and I believe is still in custody, as the FBI continues to look at the case.
Q: Did the man make any threats?
MR. BACON: I am not aware that the man made any threats. And there is no evidence that the -- we have no evidence at this stage that he was making threats.
Q: Was there any bomb-making material or material that could be used to make explosives in his car?
MR. BACON: There was in the car a can of black powder. I don't know what that black powder was. Many gun owners make their own ammo out of gunpowder, put together their own bullets. I don't know whether that's what the black powder was. I don't know how much of it there was. But the DPS has determined that this person did not pose a terrorist threat.
Q: Was he an American?
MR. BACON: Yes, sorry.
Q: Was he an -- he's an American?
MR. BACON: Yes, he is.
Q: Has he been charged with anything?
MR. BACON: No, he's not been charged with anything. It's not even clear that he's violated any law.
Q: Why is he being detained, then?
MR. BACON: Well, he's being detained while the FBI checks things out. But --
Q: He was in a parking lot? Where was --
MR. BACON: He was not in a parking lot, he was on North Rotary Road.
Q: North --
MR. BACON: North Rotary Road.
Q: Boundary Road, you mean?
MR. BACON: I believe it's North Rotary Road, on the south side of the Pentagon.
Q: What state were the plates?
MR. BACON: I believe they were California plates, but I'm not certain.
Q: Oh, well, that's it. (Laughter.)
MR. BACON: But the legal determinations here are as to whether he was transporting the guns illegally is really up to the FBI to decide, and it may be quite -- it's quite possible that he was not transporting anything illegally.
Q: Isn't it a violation of law to possess firearms on the Pentagon reservation if you're not a law enforcement officer?
MR. BACON: I'm not positive he was on the reservation, but he was on a road. I'll have to check that. And I don't know that that's the rule.
Q: Can you tell us the person's name?
MR. BACON: You asked me that, and I cannot. He hasn't been charged with anything.
Q: A different subject?
MR. BACON: Sure.
Q: I haven't checked into this this morning, but the last I heard the supplemental -- the Kosovo and Colombia supplemental was held up on the Hill. Could you talk about -- has that changed any?
MR. BACON: Well, my understanding is that the House will act on it next week, and then it will be taken up by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Secretary Cohen has sent Senator Lott a letter urging rapid passage of the supplemental, noting that a long delay will have a deleterious impact on Army readiness in particular by forcing the Army to dip into operations and maintenance funds in order to pay the costs of Kosovo. Some of the supplemental would cover the costs of the Kosovo mission. So --
Q: When was that letter sent?
MR. BACON: The letter was yesterday, and I'd be glad to -- you can get a copy from Sue Hansen in DDI.
Q: If the funding is delayed, would it in any way jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops in Kosovo? Or will it be a matter of resources having to be diverted to Kosovo?
MR. BACON: It would be a question of diverting resources from training and operations and maintenance in order to support our troops in Kosovo. Obviously, our front line troops everywhere will get the first call on the dollars.
Q: Thank you.
Q: I have one more subject, I'm sorry. Regarding the price of oil, two questions. One is when the Russian tanker was interdicted a few months back, we were told that the high price of oil was resulting in increased oil smuggling in the Persian Gulf. Now that prices have risen even further, what's going on with -- is there oil smuggling going on in the Persian Gulf? Can you tell us anything about what's happening? What has the result been there? Are you seeing more activity?
MR. BACON: That's a good question. I haven't checked the figures recently. I will, and get back to you.
Q: And what impact does it have on the DOD budget?
MR. BACON: What impact does -- well, that's one of the things we have to cover in our budgeting, the cost of oil. And to the extent that oil costs rise, we need money to cover that.
Q: And just a second part to that. A number of members of Congress, including Senator Lott and Senator Warner, have argued that the high fuel prices are a national security issue, and they've appealed to Secretary Cohen to do more. Has Secretary Cohen, for instance, contacted any of the Gulf allies about oil production levels, and would it be proper for the Secretary of Defense to play that sort of role?
MR. BACON: The secretary is about to go to the Gulf, and I imagine that this will be one of the topics he'll discuss in each one of the countries he visits.
Q: Has he made any -- has he had any discussions now, before?
MR. BACON: Well, I think that the oil-producing countries around the world are very aware of what the United States government views are. They have been contacted. Mr. Richardson -- Secretary Richardson has talked to some of them, and I think they know what our views are.
Q: Thank you.
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